Coronavirus-news June 30, 2020
Kerala NGO & self-employed disabled entrepreneurs protest against fuel price hike
All Kerala Wheelchair Rights Federation has joined hands with self-employed entrepreneurs with disabilities to protest against the fuel price hike. They have held protests in Kochi and Malappuram already. Livelihood of thousands of disabled entrepreneurs who rely on their three-wheelers to sell products are now affected due to the fuel price hike. Protestors hope that stories of their struggles and woes reach concerned officials who can help them during this crisis time.
Ever since the past one month, India has been witnessing a shocking rise in fuel prices. Even while the price hike continues on its 22nd day, people with disabilities who work and support their families are amongst the most affected. Since most of them rely on their three-wheeler scooters for transport, the fuel price hike has added to their woes. The All Kerala Wheelchair Rights Federation (AKWRF), an NGO that empowers wheelchair users in Kerala have stepped up to protest against this fuel hike. They are organizing protests and dharnas in parts of Kerala with the hope that officials will pay attention to their hardships and reach out to them.
Small businesses affected
Due to the ongoing Coronavirus crisis and lockdown, India’s disabled community has been adversely affected. Since most of them run their own small businesses, lack of jobs have left many starving.
In Kerala, there are many disabled people who sell lottery tickets, hand-made soaps, washing powders and cleaning products on three-wheelers. They move around to sell the products. These entrepreneurs are now struggling to make ends meet. Since most of them are sole bread-winners of their families, the struggles are more.
AKWRF Kochi members protested at the famous Rajendra Maidan on 27 June. On 29 June, another protest was held by the members at Malappuram too. AKWRF team hopes that these protests will be an eye-opener for officials who need to understand the plight of people with disabilities.
Protestors point that they had followed all the safety guidelines issued by the government which includes wearing face masks, social distancing, washing hands and using sanitizers.
Member of Parliament Hibi Eden was the chief guest at the Kochi protest. He said that the Centre should be supporting disabled people at a time like this. “This is the time when the government must provide subsidies and benefits to people with disabilities. Instead, citizens are being looted. Those who are self-employed are finding it hard to even survive. The fuel price hike is something that the central government must look into. But most importantly, they must find ways to help people with disabilities during this time”.
“This is the first time that disabled people in Kerala are coming out to protest for a cause like this. Fuel price hike has affected all sections of society and disabled people are undoubtedly one of the worst-affected. Till now, we haven’t got any response from concerned officials. But our protests have been covered widely on social media and other such platforms. So we hope our message reaches far and wide”, says Rajeev Palluruthy, Secretary, AKWRF.
He further adds, “Self-employed disabled people who support their families are finding it hard to run their three-wheelers by paying such a huge amount as fuel price. The government must help us”.
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